The 5th Execution of 2022
A Missouri man who killed a couple during a robbery
at their rural home more than a quarter of a century ago was put to death on May 3, 2022, becoming just the fifth person executed in the United States this
year, reported NBC News.
Deck, 56, died by injection at the state prison in Bonne Terre. He was
pronounced dead at 6:10 p.m. His fate was sealed a day earlier when neither
Supreme Court nor Republican Gov. Mike Parson stepped in to halt the
execution. Deck’s death sentence was overturned three times before for
Deck mouthed a few inaudible words as the 5 grams of
pentobarbital were administered, then puffed out a couple of breaths before all
movement stopped, the process lasting just a few seconds.
“My hope is that one day the world will find peace
and that we all will learn to be kind and loving to one another,” Deck said in
a written final statement. “We all are a part of this journey through life,
connected in every way. Please give love, show love, BE LOVE!”
Parson, in a statement, said the couple killed,
James and Zelma Long, “were innocent victims of Carman Deck’s heinous violence.
Tonight, justice was served.”
Four other people have been executed in the U.S. in
2022 — Donald
Anthony Grant and Gilbert
Ray Postelle in Oklahoma, Matthew Reeves in Alabama and Carl Wayne Buntion last month in Texas. Eleven people
were executed in the U.S. last year, the fewest since 1988.
Court records show that Deck, of the St. Louis area,
was a friend of the grandson of the Longs, who lived in De Soto, about 45 miles
southwest of St. Louis. He knew the couple, in their late 60s, kept a safe in
In July 1996, Deck and his sister stopped at the
home under the guise of asking directions. Deck wasn’t surprised the couple let
“They’re country folks,” Deck told a detective,
according to court records. “They always do.”
Once inside, Deck pulled a gun from his waistband.
At Deck’s command, Zelma Long opened the safe and removed jewelry, then got
$200 from her purse and more money hidden in a canister.
Deck ordered the couple to lie on their stomachs on
their bed. Court records said Deck stood there for 10 minutes deciding what to
do, then shot James Long twice in the head before doing the same thing to Zelma
Prosecutors said Deck later gave a full account of
the killings in oral, written and audiotaped statements. He was sentenced to
death in 1998, but the Missouri Supreme Court tossed the sentence due to errors
by Deck’s trial lawyer.
The U.S. Supreme Court threw out his second sentence
in 2005, citing the prejudice caused by Deck being shackled in front of the
He was sentenced to death for a third time in
years later, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry determined that
“substantial” evidence arguing against the death penalty in Deck’s first two
penalty phases was unavailable for the third because witnesses had died,
couldn’t be found or declined to cooperate.
In October 2020, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals restored the death penalty, ruling that Deck should
have raised his concern first in state court, not federal court. Appeals of
that ruling were unsuccessful.
The clemency petition on behalf of Deck cited abuse
he suffered as a child, including beatings that left welts and sexual abuse. It
said he and his siblings often were left alone without food. Deck’s attorney,
Elizabeth Unger Carlyle, said in a statement that Deck also was raped while in
prison for theft at age 19.
“This experience transformed him from a non-violent
thief into the person who committed two terrible murders,” Carlyle said. She
called his execution “unjust and immoral.”
of executions in the U.S. has declined significantly since peaking at
98 in 1998. The drop has coincided with declining support, falling from a high
of 80 percent in 1994 to 54 percent in 2021 according to Gallup polls. Since
the mid-1990s, opposition has risen from under 20 percent to around 45 percent.
Use of the death penalty has become concentrated
mostly in a few Southern and Plains states. Last year, Texas executed three
inmates, Oklahoma executed two, and one each were put to death in Alabama,
Mississippi and Missouri. Three federal inmates were executed in January 2021,
toward the end of President Donald Trump’s administration.
On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee paused
executions in his state for the rest of the year to enable a review of
lethal injection procedures after a testing oversight forced the state to call
off the execution of Oscar Smith an hour before he was to die on April 21.
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